Coalition Building Drives Congressional Support

September 2021 Voice: A critical element to the work being done to pass legislation reforming the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) has been the construction of a true nationwide coalition of public retiree and active employee organizations, whose members are harmed by the WEP. 

In the July edition of The Voice, we reported that some 52 groups had publicly endorsed H.R. 2337, Congressman Richard Neal’s WEP reform proposal. Since then, several additional organizations have joined our efforts, including our close allies the Mass. Police Association (MPA). Public retiree organizations from across California have also become increasingly engaged with pressing for passage of the bill, bringing tens of thousands of retirees to the fight. 

“Like our Association, these groups are not new to the issue of the WEP or even advocating for it to change. What is new for 2021 is the fact that we are now working together in close communication and a coordinated manner. We are also in 100% agreement that the most likely vehicle to bring relief to our members, as well as fix the WEP for future generations of retirees, is Chairman Neal’s proposal,” explains Mass Retirees Chief Executive Officer Shawn Duhamel. “The fact that at the end of July we had 175 House cosponsors for H.R. 2337 is proof positive that our growing coalition is having an impact. Calls, emails, and letters from our combined membership are making all the difference. The key is to keep the pressure on until we succeed.” 

On Capitol Hill, talks continue between Democrats and Republicans in the House over joining together behind a unified approach to WEP reform. As we have previously reported, a difference of opinion rests with how the new Social Security formula would be applied to future retirees and whether to sunset the hold harmless clause contained within H.R. 2337. 

Under the current proposal, future retirees would see their Social Security benefit calculated under both the current WEP formula AND the new formula, then receive the greater of the two benefits. 

Republicans, following the lead of Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), appear to prefer the hold harmless clause be sunset or ended at some point in the future. Brady’s proposal in 2019 would have ended the current WEP formula after forty years, after which time the new Social 

Security benefit would apply to all future retirees. Brady recently announced his retirement from Congress at the end of the current session in January 2023. 

“We have never viewed WEP as a partisan issue and believe that there is not all that much difference between the current Democrat and Republican positions. Mr. Neal and Mr. Brady have worked closely together on WEP and other issues of mutual concern in the past. We believe that same dynamic exists now and are doing all we can to encourage a unified front in passing WEP reform this Congressional session,” continued Duhamel. 

Congress is now in summer recess and is scheduled to return to formal business shortly after Labor Day in early September.